Since the formation of Andhra Pradesh to date, we have witnessed eighteen Chief Ministers. Politics is all about changing the lives of the people. India is a Developing country. The population is a mix of poor and aspirational people having different needs. So, the priorities of the Chief Ministers decide the fate of a state.
We have had about nine Chief Ministers from 1956 to 1983. All these are Congress Chief Ministers. Most of the Chief Ministers lack self-charisma. They were only high command appointees and were mostly busy saving their seats by managing the Group politics in the Congress party and being in the High command’s Good books.
For instance, T Anjaiah was a laborer in Alwyn and went on to become the Union Leader there and later on entered the State Assembly. He went on to become the CM because he was the High Command’s pick.
No one knows when the High command’s sealed cover would come and change the Chief Minister.
And how can history forget how Rajiv Gandhi insulted a Chief Minister in the Airport in 1982?
Later came NT Ramarao. A film star turned politician many in the state and historians believe he was the best thing to happen to Andhra Pradesh. Ramarao was completely Pro-poor. He announced revolutionary social welfare schemes and also made radical decisions like abolishing of Patel Patwari system in Telangana and Munusobu and Karanam system in Andhra Pradesh which were like the feudal back then.
We have Nadendla Bhaskara Rao who became the CM forcibly when NTR went to America for treatment but his power lasted for a month. Later when NTR lost in the 1989 elections, Congress’s high command changed three Chief Ministers in five years only to vex the people further. And then, there is the Chandrababu Naidu era since 1995.
Chandrababu Naidu was the first Telugu Chief Minister who tried to understand the needs of the aspirational population of the state. He promoted literacy in the state and increased the number of Engineering colleges. For the first time, we have seen a Chief Minister promoting Technology, investments, job creation, etc.
There was a focus more on infrastructure than just freebies.
The advent of Microsoft changed the face of Hyderabad and now the city is on the Global IT map. That patronage of Naidu to IT ensured that most of the Telugu families have Engineers working here or abroad. This has increased the living standards of the people in Andhra Pradesh and thereby the total outlook of the state.
YS Rajasekhara Reddy was more into masses-pleasing freebies but the best part is he allowed the development that started in Chandrababu’s regime to continue. Rosaiah and Kiran Kumar Reddy who became the Chief Ministers after YSR’s demise were only mere rubber stamps.
In the later parts of his time, Chandrababu Naidu also tried to strike a balance between welfare and investments to impress the poor as well as the aspirational population of the state.
He embarked on the mission to build a World-class Capital ‘Amaravati’ but the mission was again cut short by another electoral defeat. Why Naidu is different from any other Telugu CMs?
We have a leader who could dare to visualize or attempt to construct a World-class capital and then, there is another leader like Jagan Mohan Reddy who feels it is better to call an existing city a Capital and get the job done.
The current AP Chief Minister gives us a feeling that a Chief Minister is only about getting loans and distributing money. When the youngest CM of AP calls Funds transfer with a word like ‘Button Nokkadam’, we understand where we are headed to. And then, there is zero investment in investments, job creation, etc.
The first Chief Minister of Telangana, KCR may be discounted in this debate because much of the credit in this arena is going to KTR. KCR is more into sentiment and welfare politics. We may have a second entry into the exclusive club of Naidu if KTR becomes the CM one day.
That said, Chandrababu Naidu revolutionized Andhra Pradesh politics by promoting investments, and job creation like no other Telugu Chief Minister. For sure, he should be credited for promoting the aspirational population and improving the living standards in the state. Irrespective of electoral results in the past and future, Naidu will forever have that credit to his name in the history books.